18 Mar 2020

Immigration goes hard to catch tourists ignoring isolation rules

From Checkpoint, 5:22 pm on 18 March 2020

Immigration is promising a hard-line approach to rounding up wayward tourists flouting isolation rules.

And it is calling on New Zealanders to 'dob' those people in.

Two tourists are in lockdown in Christchurch awaiting deportation after refusing to stay isolated for 14 days.

Immigration's Stephen Vaughan says the rules are clear, and if travellers fall foul of them, officials will catch them.

"Essentially anybody that has come to New Zealand is required to self-isolate since Saturday.

"So the vast majority of people have come in and they've absolutely complied and they are self-isolating," Vaughan said.

"But for a handful of people, there are wilful non compliers who have refused to do so, and we're tracking them down and deporting them."

The people Immigration is tracking are several foreign nationals he said, and are aware of the new self-isolation rules. He said irresponsible behaviour will not be tolerated, and those visitors will be liable for deportation.

Immigration is following up on details written on arrival cards to contact those travellers it believes are wilfully non-complying with self-isolation.

Vaughan told Checkpoint Immigration is asking New Zealanders to report any visitors they believe are not complying with self-isolation rules.

"Anybody who has any information in relation to a foreign national who may have come to New Zealand who is not complying, then we encourage them to contact us."

Travellers who have been detained are kept in an approved Ministry of Health facility, and are deported after two weeks in quarantine.

"They are absolutely under locked up in quarantine, and an eye has been kept on them to make sure that after the 14 day period they leave us Zealand.

"It's a multi-agency operation – Police, Customs, Ministry of Health and Immigration New Zealand.

"This is totally irresponsible behaviour - I would be amazed if anyone coming into New Zealand wouldn't know about our quarantine facilities and the compliance but the Health Act.

"And even if they did arrive not knowing, going through the border they're absolutely aware of it. So that's for me completely irresponsible. We're not tolerating it.

"We're going very hard and very early to ensure that the safety of people in New Zealand are protected."